After all the spring training storylines seeming to focus on an improved Brian Matusz or Zach Britton or any other surprise starting pitching candidate, the Orioles announced the remainder of their rotation on Tuesday. The three filling out the rotation are exactly the three you might have guessed after the signing of Ubaldo Jimenez.
Wei-Yin Chen will start the third game of the season. Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez will also be in the rotation, although manager Buck Showalter hasn't decided on their exact order yet. It was probably a waste of oxygen to ponder anything different. Chen, the lone lefty, in the third spot, makes sense.
Outside of the starting rotation battles, the Orioles have also privately informed both Ryan Flaherty and Steve Clevenger that they made the club. Neither of these is surprising, either, given that it seemed all but certain that the O's had zeroed in on using Flaherty as a temporary replacement at third base for the injured Manny Machado, and Clevenger's last competition was designated for assignment on Monday when the O's acquired infielder Steve Lombardozzi.
During the short time an O's game was being played on Monday before it was rained out, the MASN broadcast mentioned that Lombardozzi would be making the club. If that's the case, he might be the utility infielder, or even the starter at second base. That's one position battle that's still up in the air, along with the exact composition of the bullpen, fourth outfield, and designated hitter spots.
There are a pair of split-squad games on Wednesday. Showalter told reporters he'll be making more cuts then, though it's not certain whether they will be the final cuts. At this point, everyone who's sent out makes everything else that much more clear. The out-of-options crunch is still coming, though the O's indicated last week that two of those players - Edgmer Escalona and Francisco Peguero - would be opening the season on the disabled list. That possibility also exists for Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar:
The Os got MRI results on Almanzar's knee. He'll be out for couple days. No more info given.— Dan Connolly (@danconnollysun) March 25, 2014
An MRI on top of being shut down for a few days at least gives the appearance that there's something real going on. Almanzar seems unlikely to make the active roster out of camp, but if he's on the DL, the O's can keep him. This isn't quite on the level of two years ago when Flaherty was put on the DL because he was going to miss two games with tonsilitis or whatever it was.
Still, the fact that they haven't announced what the exact knee problem is makes it a little bit shady until we learn more.
Are you happy with this starting rotation? I'm hoping Kevin Gausman will be forcing his way up to the major league rotation in six weeks or less. For now, this is probably as good as it gets. If most of them perform as we've seen them perform recently, things should be OK.